So Much for Inalienable Rights

Two weeks ago, during his Senate confirmation hearings, nominee Robert Gates was asked if he believed the Iranians were trying to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

Gates said he did.

He was then asked if he believed “the Iranians would consider using that nuclear weapons capability against the nation of Israel.”

Gates said he didn’t. In fact, he believed the Iranians were seeking a nuclear weapons capability as a “deterrent.” After all, Gates noted that –

“They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf.”

Notice that Gates was asked not about nuclear weapons, but about “nuclear weapons capability.”

What’s the difference?

Well, to the Likudniks and their Congressional sycophants, there isn’t any.

But, as far as the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group are concerned, there is an enormous difference.

As an NPT signatory, Iran has an “inalienable right” to develop “without discrimination” the capability to enrich uranium – subject, of course, to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement, entered into for the exclusive purpose of verifying that no “source or special fissionable material” has been diverted to a military purpose.

Furthermore, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China – as signatories to the NPT– have all undertaken to “facilitate” that development by Iran.

Nevertheless, despite at least a dozen quarterly reports by IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei that he could find no indication that Iran had ever diverted any source or special fissionable material to a military purpose, Bush and the Likudniks have managed to get the IAEA Board of Governors to repeatedly violate the IAEA Statute and the UN Security Council to repeatedly disregard the UN Charter, demanding that Iran give up its rights guaranteed by both the NPT and by the IAEA Statute.

Now, you might think that the Likudniks – and maybe even Bush and Bobby Gates – know something ElBaradei doesn’t know. That they are not complete idiots. That they don’t really consider an Iranian capability to enrich uranium in an IAEA Safeguarded facility to be tantamount to Iran having nuclear weapons.

But no, one of the more interesting revelations elicited by Seymour Hersh from Scott Ritter during their televised public discussion this past October of Ritter’s latest book Target Iran, was that Ritter had cultivated a close working relationship with Israeli intelligence analysts, beginning while a US Marine intelligence officer, assigned to the staff of General Norman Schwartzkopf during Operation Desert Storm, continuing through his seven years as Chief Inspector for the UN Commission on Arms Control in Iraq, even informing the books Ritter has written since resigning from UNSCOM.

After praising ElBaradei for having conducted a multi-year program of inspections of unprecedented scope and thoroughness, resulting in no evidence of undisclosed nuclear activity, much less a diversion of source or special fissionable materials, Ritter revealed that Israeli intelligence has also been unable – despite considerable use of on-the-ground “human intelligence” and analysis of spy-satellite images – to find any indication of a hidden Iranian nuclear program.


“Israel has drawn a red line that says, not only will they not tolerate a nuclear weapons program in Iran, they will not tolerate anything dealing with nuclear energy, especially enrichment, that could be used in a nuclear program.

“So, even if Iran is telling the truth – Iran says, ‘We have no nuclear weapons program. We just want peaceful nuclear energy’ – Israel says, ‘So long as Iran has any enrichment capability, this constitutes a threat to Israel,’ and they are pressuring the United States to take forceful action.”

So, Bush and Gates and the Likudniks don’t know something about Iran’s nuclear programs that ElBaradei doesn’t know, that our intelligence community doesn’t know, that Congress doesn’t know.

Speaking of the Best Congress Money Can Buy, what were they doing while Bush-Bolton-Rice were corrupting the IAEA Board of Governors and emasculating the UN Security Council?

Well, busy passing the Iran Freedom and Support Act which, inter alia, declared it “should” be the policy of the United States not to bring into force an agreement for cooperation with the government of any country unless “either on its own initiative or pursuant to a binding decision of the United Nations Security Council, suspended all nuclear assistance to Iran and all transfers of advanced conventional weapons and missiles to Iran.”

That law was aimed at Russia, an NPT signatory still attempting to honor its NPT commitments to Iran.

Then, in their final hours, the 109th Congress enacted the US-India Nuclear Cooperation Act (.pdf), which, inter alia, declared it “shall” be the policy of the United States to

“Secure India’s full and active participation in United States efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons capability and the capability to enrich uranium or reprocess nuclear fuel, and the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction.”

What if India is not assessed by the President to be fully and actively participating in such efforts?

He is to provide them a report setting out

“(I) the measures the United States Government has taken to secure India’s full and active participation in such efforts;

“(II) the responses of the Government of India to such measures; and

(III) the measures the United States Government plans to take in the coming year to secure India’s full and active participation;”

As for the Likudniks, upon emerging from a meeting last week with Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert alluded once again to the possibility of Israeli military action against Iran, saying, “the people of Iran must understand that if they do not accept the request of the international community [to give up their inalienable rights], they’re going to pay dearly.”

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.